Stepping up to lead isn’t easy. Knowing the outcome of that step is even harder. Beyond all that, trying to figure out who you are as a leader and how you want to be seen, known and heard can feel like a little bit too much to compute.
If you’ve ever felt this way, I have good news for you. You’re right. And you’re not alone in feeling this way. Every leader has a moment when they need to determine what their imprint looks like and when that time comes, there are some things you need to consider about how you will define yours.
Firstly, have a think about what calls to you naturally. It’s important for this process for you to know that you aren’t going to be the only person who leads and influences others. It is ok to not be across every base. It is ok to not be the champion of every cause. The power of your leadership is tied to the power of your uniqueness and how willing you are to bring your authentic self to the table. What are your passions? What are the things you care about? What brings you joy? What do you desperately want to change? These questions aren’t always straight-forward to answer but they are a step in the right direction to uncovering the legacy of your leadership on yourself and those around you.
Let’s step away from the future for a moment and set our sights on the present. Having the vision of your leadership’s impact is awesome but we won’t get there if we can’t figure out how we lead on a day-to-day basis. So to look at this, we shift our focus inwards. We need to consider questions like: How do I interact with the people I care about? What is it about the people I follow that I admire or makes me want to follow them? What are my strengths? What am I good at? What do I stand for and how can I bring more of those values into my day-to-day interactions? These questions exist to make us take a good look at who we are surrounding ourselves with and begin to think about if our interactions with our people are actually up to the level we want them to be. As leaders, our words and actions set a standard for people around us and if we aren’t living by what we stand for and actively making a choice to build relationships in a meaningful way – the standard we are setting likely doesn’t lead us to the legacy we want to leave behind.
On the journey of stepping into our leadership we can sometimes feel a lot of weight has been put onto us and now we have to carry it wherever we go. Though a part of this is true, we also need to start putting the right foundations around us to make sure that the journey of defining ourselves as leaders doesn’t harm us more than help us. We all feel burnout, we all experience those days where you just can’t get anything to happen the way you want it to. When we experience these days, we need the networks of people around us and the internal awareness to also know that we might need to spend some time shaping up our own wellbeing and getting ourselves back to a place of being well and ready. So take a moment to think about what brings you energy and what drains your energy. Maybe you prefer to spend some time alone to recover after a big week. Maybe you like to hang out with your friends. Maybe you need to shake up your routine and try something new. Maybe you need to go back to something that feels a bit more comfortable. There are no right or wrong answers on how to best find your wellbeing. It is most important that you are just aware of what you need and intentionally finding time to actually let that process happen.
In a nutshell, defining how we lead is hard but when we break it down to understanding where we are going, who we are right now, and what we need to take with us for the journey – we set ourselves up with a unique understanding of what it means to bring our full, authentic self to the table.
As leaders, being our full authentic self is one of the most powerful things we can do.